Your Ultimate Guide to The Cochin Chicken
The Cochin chicken has a unique plumage and personality that won over even British Royalty. But their egg and meat yield may not meet your standards.
Read our ultimate guide to find out if you want to get on board the Cochin hype.
Cochin Chicken Breed In A nutshell
|Purpose for Breeding||Eggs/meat, exhibition, pets|
|Size and appearance||Large (8.5 – 11 lbs) and heavily feathered|
|Egg production/ Egg color||Approx. 160/year, medium to large-sized, brown in color|
|Ease of care||Low maintenance|
|Lifespan||Average of up to 10 years|
|Meat production time||15 months|
|Sociability with other chickens||Excellent, peaceful with other birds|
|Sociability with people||Excellent|
Brief History of the Cochin Chicken
Cochins have always fascinated chicken breeders and keepers alike.
They originated from Shanghai, China, bred as a meat and egg source. In 1842, this breed made its way out of China, courtesy of Queen Victoria and her penchant for exotic birds.
The hype for exotic chickens, known as “Hen Fever,” spread across England and eventually to America (1).
People love Cochin chickens for their looks.
The American Poultry Association recognized the breed in 1874. Since then, breeders started keeping Cochins more for show than as livestock.
What Does A Cochin Chicken Look Like?
Generally, Cochins have large, heavy structures with lush plumage on their bodies. Even their legs and feet have feathers.
They have single combs on their heads with red wattles and earlobes. This breed also has short wings with puffy tail feathers.
To this day, many people keep Cochins for ornamental purposes.
They are one of the heaviest chicken breeds around, weighing between 8.5 – 11lbs (large fowl) when full-grown.
Cochins stand out with their unique feathering and large size. They even started a trend in poultry exhibitions (2)
Cochin Chicken Colors: The 25 Recognized Varieties
The American Poultry Association recognizes 25 color varieties of the Cochin chicken breed. You can find them in either standard or bantam sizes.
Large Fowl And Bantam Varieties
- Barred: These Cochins have black plumage with white discoloration at the edges. The pattern gives a jagged striped appearance.
- Black: One of the plain varieties, the black cochin chicken, has purely black, shiny plumage.
- Blue: The blue cochin chicken has black plumage from its head to its neck. Their body feathers are dusty gray, giving off a bluish hue.
- Brown: As the name suggests, this variety is color brown. They don’t have any special markings or patterns.
- Buff: This bird variety has light to medium golden brown plumage. The feathers are usually lighter on their underside.
- Golden Laced: This variety is also present in other chicken species. These birds have jet black feathers with golden centers—kind of like a two-tone lace pattern.
- Partridge: This is the most intricate of the color varieties. They have alternating reddish-brown and black V patterns on each feather. You’ll have to look closely to notice it.
- Silver Laced: This is like the pattern of the golden laced variety. But with silver replacing the gold. Pretty self-explanatory.
- White: This bird is the purest looking recognized variety. These Cochins are fluffy and white as a cloud. The red wattles and earlobes of the chicken really stand out.
Exclusive Varieties for Cochin Bantams
- Birchen: The most notable feature of this variety is having shiny black body feathers and white head and neck plumage.
- Brown Red: These Cochins look like the poster boy of roosters. They have almost orange plumage on their head, chest, and back and black feathers on their tail and legs. The hens are mostly black with some orange on their necks.
- Buff Columbian: This variety of Cochin has the light golden feathers of the Buff variety. But they have the presence of black colored specks. These specks scatter throughout the chicken’s body, mostly on the back part.
- Columbian: The Columbian Cochin has fluffy white plumage with dusty black feathers around the neck.
- Lemon Blue: These chickens are a less vibrant version of the Brown Red variety. They have yellow-orange plumage on their neck, chest, and back. Their tails and undersides are dusty gray.
- Mottled: This variety looks quite like the silver laced Cochins. But the pattern is irregular. Imagine having a black chicken and then splattering white paint on it.
- Red: These Cochins have a uniform reddish-brown plumage. No unique markings or patterns with these guys.
- Splash: Think of these guys as the Dalmatians of the chicken world—mostly white plumage with minimal light black to dark gray “spot.”.
Frizzle Cochin Chickens are not an actual breed or variety in the United States (3).
Genetically, a frizzle is not a breed; it is simply any chicken with frizzled feathers
Any variety of Cochin can carry the frizzle characteristic. It can manifest in other chicken breeds of similar structure and size.
Cross-breeding is popular among Cochin breeders. Although, show standards don’t recognize them.
Crosses among any of the varieties produce interesting and equally appealing types.
Some varieties are black blue, black buff, buff partridge, to name a few. You can come up with countless crosses with all the varieties available.
Owning The Cochin Chicken Breed
These fluff balls probably won you over with their unique characteristics.
If you’re considering keeping them, here’s what you need to know about the cochin chicken breed.
- Produces eggs in Winter
- Easy to keep
- High Broodiness
- Not fussy with cages
- Good looking birds
- Slow table production
- Low egg production
- Prone to obesity
- Easy target for predators
- Plumage needs extra care
Cochin’s Personality And Temperament
Cochin Chickens are very mild-mannered birds.
They don’t get into squabbles with one another or with other chickens or animals. These make them an excellent addition to any farm.
Due to their huge size and small wings, these birds don’t like to roam around. They’d rather wait around for you to feed them rather than forage. (Lazy butts!)
They are excellent parents with a high inclination to broodiness—the hens even brood eggs of other poultry species like ducks and turkeys.
Sometimes, the roosters also do this!
They’re docile and don’t mind the handling, which makes them good pets and good around children (4).
Cochin Egg And Meat Production
Cochins are dual-purpose chickens bred for eggs and meat. But cochin hens can produce fewer eggs over time.
Their flesh also takes more time to harvest compared to other chickens. Ideally, taking up to 15 months, some people harvest as early as 12 weeks. The meat is just tolerable table quality at this point.
The long wait for the ideal harvest does have its advantage. A single chicken will yield about 10lbs of meat, based on their average adult weight.
Cochins lay large brown eggs. But they aren’t the best chicken for eggs.
Some breeders do like having them around, especially during the cold months. They are good winter layers.
Their lush feathers keep them warm and comfortable enough to produce eggs during the cold months.
Weather doesn’t play much of a role in the egg production of Cochin chickens.
But their weight may be a determining factor. Overweight Cochins yield lower numbers of eggs. Also, depending on how heavy they get, large clutches are at risk of getting squished by a big momma.
Check out this list if you want to know more about the best egg-laying breeds of chicken.
Cochin Chicken Noise
Apart from the occasional chirps to communicate with each other, Cochins are one of the quietest breeds.
They are naturally calm, even during commotions.
It makes them perfect for keeping in a city setting or an urban farm without any neighbor problems.
How To Take Care Of Cochins
1. Put In A Dry, Good-Sized Coop
This breed of chicken doesn’t fly, thanks to their big bodies and short wings. That said, they only need low roosts in their chicken coop.
These chickens take confinement well. Being caged for shows was good practice for this. A chicken run is not necessary but is good for exercise.
Cochins don’t like to wander far. You don’t have to worry about them getting lost in a free-range setting.
But, if you will be keeping them in wide-open spaces, beware of predators. Cochins are big and slow, making them easy targets for all kinds of chicken predators.
One more important thing to note is to keep them in dry spaces at all times (7).
If the chicken gets wet or damp, the plumage can stay wet and make the chicken cold or sick.
It’s especially true for their feet feathers.
This breed can tolerate the cold well when they are dry. But if they get wet during the winter, frostbite can be serious.
Make sure to keep the chicken coop in a space that doesn’t form puddles.
In wet and cold climates, it’s better to keep them indoors. They make good house chickens!
2. Give Them A Handful of Feed With Greens
We mentioned that Cochins are prone to obesity. It is partly due to their being great eaters and not at all picky with their food.
That said, don’t leave them with food available anytime they want. Topping up feeders throughout the day isn’t the way to go with this bird.
Backyard chicken keepers should give them a handful of regular feed with more greens at most twice a day. Even chickens need their veggies to stay healthy!
3. Keep An Eye On Their Weight
Since Cochins are lazy birds who don’t like to carry their own weight, they tend to become overweight. Keepers should keep an eye on their weight.
Their appearance of being naturally big can be misleading of what their ideal weight is.
Although some may think that having an extra plump bird is a good thing, it’s not for this particular breed!
Overfeeding can lead to obesity.
This can cause severe problems like egg-binding. Too much fat also makes it hard for chickens to breathe and control their temperatures, causing heatstroke. (5).
Cochins have lush plumage.
Keepers should also be mindful of the cleanliness of the chicken’s surroundings. Make sure the plumage on their legs is free from mud and the common bird parasites.
Generally speaking, raising chickens takes time, effort, and general know-how. Start with a couple of Cochins. They are great practice when venturing into the world of chicken keeping.
Where Can You Buy Cochin Chickens?
Cochins are a rare ornamental breed of poultry.
Prices vary depending on whether you prefer getting chicks, pullets, or adults.
Cochin chicken sources in North America are in the eastern states of the USA. Check out these hatcheries and poultry farms:
- SeaBreeze Hens (Texas, USA)
- Hoover’s Hatchery (Iowa, USA)
- Meyer Hatchery (Ohio, USA)
- Mill Valley Chickens (California, USA)
- Wild Acres (British Columbia, Canada)
There is very little not to like about the Cochin chicken breed. They have a little of everything you would want in a chicken.
They produce decent eggs and meat. Cochins are also a great company to have with their mellow temperament.
Being pretty to look at while requiring relatively low maintenance is, of course, a plus! Regardless of farming qualities, these birds would be a great addition to your home/yard as pets.
Cochin chickens aren’t good egg layers. Cochin chickens produce more or less 160 eggs per year. Compared to other chickens that can lay up to 250 annually, they don’t lay a lot.
Now, if you add the winter factor, then yes, Cochins are great egg layers. This chicken breed will still lay throughout winter.
Most other breeds slow or stop production in the cold months. Thanks to their fluffiness, Cochins can keep production going.
Cochin chickens can be good eating if you are patient enough to wait about 15 months.
Yeah. It’s a long time.
But chickens are chickens. You can definitely eat them. Some say they are quite tasty; Heritage breeds usually are worth the wait.
Plus, Cochins are big birds. The bigger the bird, the more the meat, so they’d make a good holiday chicken dinner.
Because of their slow-growing characteristics, breeding for commercial consumption didn’t go well. So the Cochin isn’t the bird for you if you want meat chickens.
Cochins are big chickens. Hens can grow to weigh up to 8.5lbs, and cocks can weigh up to 11lbs.
The standard body size needs a bigger coop. Cochins take confinement well. But, really, if you have the space, you should give it to them.
Over time, breeders developed smaller bantam Cochins. They grow to be less than 2lbs. You still get all the features of the regular Cochin. Just in a cuter package.
Definitely consider bantams if you have less space.
You can tell Cochin roosters from Cochin hens by their size and prominence of some features.
As with other breeds of chickens, roosters are generally bigger. They are also wider in stature than hens.
They also have more prominent combs and wattles on their heads and larger, or in the case of Cochins, puffier tails.
Color patterns of roosters and hens are different depending on the variety. Roosters are sort of color-blocked, while hens have a uniform pattern.
In solid color varieties, they look pretty much the same.
- The Forgotten History of ‘Hen Fever’. Retrieved from: https://www.nationalgeographic.com/culture/food/the-plate/2015/08/05/the-forgotten-history-of-hen-fever/
- Poultry Breeds – Cochin Chicken. Retrieved from: https://afs.okstate.edu/breeds/poultry/chickens/cochin/index.html/
- What is a Frizzle Chicken?. Retrieved from:https://homesteadontherange.com/2013/11/12/frizzle-chicken/
- Cochin Chicken. Retrieved from: https://livestockconservancy.org/index.php/heritage/internal/cochin
- 4 Steps to Preventing Chicken Obesity. Retrieved from: https://www.hobbyfarms.com/4-steps-to-preventing-chicken-obesity-3/
- Cochin Chicken Facts; Origin; Profile; Characteristics. Retrieved from: https://www.agrifarming.in/cochin-chicken-facts-origin-profile-characteristics
Tana grew up around island farms and pine forests. Her love for nature lead to her degree in Biology and mission to lessen her environmental impact. Now she grows food in her backyard and shares what she learns from Eco Peanut with others.